Mon, Dec 19, 2016 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Kishi urges stronger Taiwan-US-Japan ties

Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuo Kishi, a member of the Diet’s House of Councilors and brother of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, called for the strengthening of Taiwan-US-Japan relations in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (the sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) staff reporter Tzou Jiing-wen in Tokyo on Nov. 30. He also said the proper solution to Taiwan’s ban on food product imports from five Japanese prefectures is key to furthering Taiwan-Japan economic and trade cooperation

Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuo Kishi poses for a photograph during an interview in Tokyo on Dec. 10.

Photo: Tsou Ching-wen, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): Many observers believe that Donald Trump’s election as the US president will change international politics on a structural level, and for Japan, his attitude toward the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are of particular concern. What are your thoughts?

Nobuo Kishi: The election of Trump in early November was indeed a surprise to observers around the world, including Japan. It is possible that great changes will follow in Japan-US relations and the US grand strategy in Asia, according to some views.

From the Japanese perspective, Japan-US relations are the bedrock of its foreign relations and a relationship whose importance is not affected by who the current US president is, or by which US political party is in power.

When Japanese Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe was on his way to attend the APEC summit meeting in Peru [last month], he arranged to meet Mr Trump in New York, and became the first world leader to meet him after his election.

Abe and Trump talked for more than an hour and a half, which significantly exceeded the time scheduled for the meeting. Due to the informal nature of the meeting, its content was not published, but after its conclusion, Abe said with full confidence that he believes Trump is an absolutely trustworthy leader.

On this basis, the Japanese government hopes to develop mutual trust with Trump in the hope of furthering the Japan-US relationship.

From the perspective of the overall security situation in Asia, the regional importance of the US remains unaltered. Japan wishes to conduct further exchanges of opinions and communications with Trump on those issues.

LT: Have you been privy to any of the discussion between Abe and Trump that has not been released to the public?

Kishi: Shinzo Abe has not told me anything that has not been made public.

However, I will say that from the content of their discussion that is known, such as their photograph, I am fully confident that Japan will build an excellent relationship with Trump.

LT: In light of the changing international situation, will Japan be more active in pursuing bilateral relations with Taiwan, primarily in the areas of politics, economy and security?

Kishi: I must first say that in the view of the Japanese government, Taiwan shares common values, maintains close economic and personal ties with Japan, and is an important friend.

In particular, the annual exchange of visitors between the two has repeatedly broken records, with the number of visitors exchanged this year very likely to exceed 6 million person-visits.

In February, there was a major earthquake in southern Taiwan, and in April there was a major earthquake in Japan’s Kumamoto area. Japanese and Taiwanese provided mutual assistance of their own initiative.

Such empathy and concern during difficult times demonstrates the goodwill that is shared not just by the two governments, but also extensively by our societies.

The Japanese government treats this goodwill of both sides as a significant basis for deepening exchanges and cooperating in areas such as economy and culture. We will continue to work diligently to improve them.

In particular, President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration has named [former National Security Council secretary-general] Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and [former premier] Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) as the president of the Association of East Asian Relations (AEAR) and representative to Japan respectively.

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